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Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Legend In His Own Lifetime

There are those moments in history when you remember where you were when it happened and Ali was one of those moments, as in the time when he beat Foreman and when he finally passed himself. His fights were legendary, in and out of the ring. He stood alone when no one stood with him and they only wanted to touch the hem of his garment when he started to look like he was going to win again, all the way from the draft board to beating a much younger George Foreman. He showed how to win and how to lose in equal magnanimity.  And he was more than that......

The tributes will continue for decades to come where the spirit and courage of the man will be hotly debated. In the end they will all agree that he was different than the rest except against the shoulders of the men and women that came before him that gave him that courage and inspiration to do the things that he did that became the man that we will all remember him by. It is from his courage that many a person who feared to thread before found their feet at last, which not only included black people, but white people and all the colours in between.

When it was said over national radio that "Joe Louis was a credit to his race, the human race" it was meant to be coy and ground breaking for its time; a doffing of the hat at black people, a sign that if they behaved they could drink at the well as white people had. The reality was much different then in the deep South and quite a few States above that for  they could not drink at the same fountain of water or eat at the same table or indeed restaurant as white people could. It took others to change that and Ali rubber stamped their courage with his larger than life personality and a mouth to match what he bragged about. He made it something proud just to be an individual no matter where you were born or under what circumstances; he gave a voice to the muted and hope to those in despair and made people feel that they could still do something and yet be happy even if they fell a little short.

I can't say it any better than the accolades that now shower the digital age except not only that people wanted to touch the hem of his garment, but that he touched all of us is some little way that wants to make us try a bit harder to be all we can be. He truly was a legend in his own lifetime and in many others lifetimes yet to come.

Barry Clifford